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John’s Believe It Or Not… March 31st

Fioravanti standing at the blackboard in his classroom.

It’s Fabulous Friday! Did you know…

* 1949 – Newfoundland joins Confederation at midnight as Canada’s 10th province. (“I never thought I’d see the day,” Joseph R. Smallwood exclaimed in 1949 when Newfoundland, which proudly styled itself England’s oldest colony, became Canada’s newest province. Smallwood, who had led the campaign for Confederation, became the first premier of the tenth province. The decision to join Canada had not been an easy one for Newfoundlanders. It came after several years of debate on their political future, capped by two referendums in 1948. Since 1934, they had been ruled by a Commission of Government appointed by Britain. During the 15 years of the Commission’s administration, Newfoundland experienced social and economic changes that raised the people’s expectations of a higher standard of living, more public services and greater economic security in international trade. It was hoped that union with Canada would help to meet these expectations.)

Political map of Canada in 1949

* 1958 – John Diefenbaker wins 208 ridings in the 24th federal election; largest ever majority by percentage of seats. (Diefenbaker’s Progressive Conservative Party [like the US Republican Party] won 208 seats of a possible 265 seats in the House of Commons. By British parliamentary tradition, the leader of the party that wins the most seats is invited by the Governor-General [represents the Queen as Canada’s Head of State] to form a government and serve Her Majesty as her Prime Minister. A majority is important in a parliamentary system because if a bill sponsored by the governing party is defeated in a vote in the House of Commons, the Prime Minister and Cabinet must resign and a new election must occur.)

Portrait of Diefenbaker
Canadian Prime Minister John Diefenbaker winning the Canadian General Election, March 31st, 1958.

* 1889 Eiffel Tower opens. (On March 31, 1889, the Eiffel Tower is dedicated in Paris in a ceremony presided over by Gustave Eiffel, the tower’s designer, and attended by French Prime Minister Pierre Tirard, a handful of other dignitaries, and 200 construction workers. In 1889, in honour of the centenary of the French Revolution, the French government planned an international exposition and announced a design competition for a monument to be built on the Champ-de-Mars in central Paris. Out of more than 100 designs submitted, the Centennial Committee chose Eiffel’s plan of an open-lattice wrought-iron tower that would reach almost 1,000 feet above Paris and be the world’s tallest man-made structure. Eiffel, a noted bridge builder, was a master of metal construction and designed the framework of the Statue of Liberty that had recently been erected in New York Harbor.)

picture of the Eiffel Tower

* 1492 Jews to be expelled from Spain. (In Spain, a royal edict is issued by the nation’s Catholic rulers declaring that all Jews who refuse to convert to Christianity will be expelled from the country. Most Spanish Jews chose exile rather than the renunciation of their religion and culture, and the Spanish economy suffered from the loss of an important portion of its workforce. Many Spanish Jews went to North Africa, the Netherlands, and the Americas, where their skills, capital, and commercial connections were put to good use. Among those who chose conversion, some risked their lives by secretly practising Judaism, while many sincere converts were nonetheless persecuted by the Spanish Inquisition. The Spanish Muslims, or Moors, were ordered to convert to Christianity in 1502.)

Painting depicting the Expulsion of the Jews from Spain (1492) and Portugal (1497)
Expulsion of the Jews from Spain (1492) and Portugal (1497)

* 1995 Longest strike in Major League Baseball history ends. (Major League Baseball players are sent back to work after the longest strike in baseball history ends on this day in 1995. Because of the strike, the 1994 World Series was cancelled; it was the first time baseball did not crown a champion in 89 years. During the negotiation of a new collective bargaining agreement, tensions between owners and players had arisen over the owners’ desire to institute a cap on player salaries. Claiming financial hardship, owners argued that player salaries, which had risen exponentially since the 1970s, had become unsustainable and, if not contained, would bankrupt the teams. The players, led by union head Donald Fehr, refused to agree to a cap; they pointed out that they had been underpaid for most of the sport’s history and called salary caps just the latest form of exploitation by owners.)

Picture of a baseball fan wearing a makeshift cap made from celery holding a sign that reads: "What's all this about celery caps?"
That says it all, folks!

Look who was born on this date!

head shot of Gordie Howe in uniform* Gordie Howe in 1928. (Canadian Ice Hockey Legend:  Often referred to as Mr Hockey, and is generally regarded as one of the greatest hockey players of all time. Most famous for his scoring prowess, physical strength, and career longevity. He is the only player to have competed in the NHL in five different decades (1940s through 1980s). A four-time Stanley Cup champion with the Red Wings, he won six Hart Trophies as the league’s most valuable player and six Art Ross Trophies as the leading scorer.)

Portrait of Bach* Johann Sebastian Bach in 1685. (German Composer:  Enriched established German styles through his skill in counterpoint, harmonic and motivic organisation, and the adaptation of rhythms, forms, and textures from abroad, particularly from Italy and France. His music is revered for its intellectual depth, technical command, and artistic beauty.)


head shot of Chavez* Cesar Chavez in 1927. (He was an American labour leader and civil rights activist who, with Dolores Huerta, co-founded the National Farm Workers Association (later the United Farm Workers union, UFW) in 1962.[1] Originally a Mexican American farm worker, Chavez became the best known Latino American civil rights activist and was strongly promoted by the American labour movement, which was eager to enrol Hispanic members. His public-relations approach to unionism and aggressive but nonviolent tactics made the farm workers’ struggle a moral cause with nationwide support. By the late 1970s, his tactics had forced growers to recognise the UFW as the bargaining agent for 50,000 field workers in California and Florida.)



Author: John Fioravanti

I'm a retired History teacher (35 years), husband, father of three, grandfather of three. My wife, Anne, and I became business partners in December 2013 and launched our own publishing company, Fiora Books (, to publish my books. We have been married since 1973 and hope our joint business venture will be as successful as our marriage.

7 thoughts on “John’s Believe It Or Not… March 31st”

    1. Thanks for stopping by, John! Yes, some days I luck out with the choices offered. I really got lucky when I found that picture a week or so ago with Gordie Howe and 12-year-old Wayne Gretzky – Mr Hockey with the future Great One.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. It is stunning how history repeats itself! On a lighter note, I’ve been hoping to visit Newfoundland someday and you’ve refreshed my interest… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for visiting with a comment, Gwen! That would be a nice trip – you might want to talk to Natalie Ducey who was born and raised there. I know there are breathtaking places to visit.

      Liked by 1 person

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